Sunday, October 31, 2010

Five reasons to visit New Zealand

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend in New Zealand for a wedding. It was a lightning-quick trip and it got me to re-evaluate my ideas about travelling there.

The view from the flight into Christchurch
I’ve now had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand three times because I fell in love with a Kiwi. I have to admit, and the traveller in me is not proud of this, that before meeting the boy, I wasn’t in a hurry to visit the Land of the Long White Cloud.

I know this may seem crazy to anyone who lives half the globe away from New Zealand – but as an Aussie, who lives just across The Ditch, I must confess I took New Zealand for granted. It wasn’t on my top five list of places to go next.

But Aotearoa, I must confess to you, I judged you too hastily. You are a magnificent country to visit and travel.

Here are my Top Five reasons why...

1. Nature untouched

New Zealand is a place where nature almost seems untouched by humans. Whether it's Milford Sound at the bottom of the South Island, Stewart Island or Matamata on the North Island, where the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was famously filmed, you won’t be disappointed. As well as hitting the big touristy places, some of the lesser-travelled areas like the picturesque farming land of South Canterbury or the hot springs of Hanmer, are well worth travelling off the main highway for.

Monday, October 11, 2010

These (Country) Boots Were Made For Walkin'

Music Festivals. I think they’re the tasty icing on the travel cake. I recently got the chance to experience the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ll admit, it was different to other music festivals I’ve been to – but it was deliciously good!

Me and my Kiwi had been travelling through the southern states of the US and the plan was to road trip from Memphis to Nashville, before going on to New York City.

We hadn't planned to be in Nashville especially for the festival - it was a lucky coincidence - so most of the accommodation was already booked out. I trawled travel and hotel websites and eventually found a modest hotel, a Super 8, near Nashville Airport. It was too good to be true! And it turned out it actually was. The hotel was cheap and nasty - and that's a compliment! We were blessed with a blocked shower drain, stained towels, a bed cover peppered with cigarette burn holes, but really, they were merely first world problems. Thanks to Super 8, we saved around $200 a night on accommodation. Most of the two and three star hotels closer to the heart of CMA Festival activities in Downtown Nashville (like the Best Western) were going for no less than $300 per night. In stark contrast to our gross hotel room was the country music capital of the world, Nashville, Tennessee. An incredible city; rich with the sound of live country music floating our of every bar, populated by friendly locals and host to a pretty amazing music festival.